Mapping Out Cedar Creek Wetland

by Public Relations

In 1887, Cedarville University opened its doors to 37 students. Today, more than 3,000 students attend the University. Over the years, the campus has expanded to accommodate the growth of the student body, which has in-turn led to a greater volume of water runoff from buildings, parking lots, and other impervious surfaces. This runoff flows into Cedar Lake, the campus lake and drains into Cedar Creek. The runoff often contains an abundance of nutrients that can disrupt stream and lake ecosystems. The biology program at Cedarville is researching ways to address this problem.

Beginning in 2006, Dr. John Silvius, senior professor of biology at Cedarville, and several biology students began working with the campus Physical Plant Department to restore a wetland along Cedar Creek, which flows from Cedar Lake to Massies Creek, then to the Little Miami River, which empties into the Ohio River, the Mississippi River and eventually, the Gulf of Mexico. Rather than allowing dissolved nutrients to leave campus and disrupt streams, Silvius and his students believe that the restored wetland will serve as a sponge to retain storm water while the roots of lush wetland plant life will capture nutrients and replenish the soil, thus producing a blooming habitat for area vegetation and local wildlife.

Because it is important for the University and local community to understand the value of wetlands in maintaining water quality, one of Dr. Silvius’ students has taken the project a step further. Anton Kilburn, a 2009 graduate who majored in life science education, joined the Wetland Restoration Project in 2009. Kilburn has a passion for the biblical mandate of creation care and restoration, and a desire to educate others about proper treatment of the environment. He shares, "We wanted to explain why we were involved with the Wetland Restoration Project, why it was so important to us, and to educate others about God’s creation, hoping that this will motivate them to be better stewards."

Kilburn developed a brochure, a self-guided walking tour that leads visitors along a series of interpretive stations, each of which draws the observer’s attention to a different functional aspect of the wetland, nearby Phipps Pond, Cedar Lake and Cedar Creek.

The tour also allows visitors to see the positive changes occurring to the campus environment. As Kilburn and other students have developed the wetland, they have witnessed a flourishing of local plant and animal species such as the Prairie Rose, Blue Lobelia, and even Great Blue Heron. The hikers will learn not only how the wetland improves the water quality, but also how caring for creation promotes healthy and attractive habitats. Already, plans are in progress to make self-guided tour brochures available for summer activity on campus. Also, William Jones, associate professor of biology, is planning to incorporate the Wetland Restoration Project into one of his Principles of Biology laboratories.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University attracts 3,200 undergraduate, graduate, and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at